Non-Sinister Reptilian Overlords

November 7, 2013

The Morning Heresy is your daily digest of news and links relevant to the secular and skeptic communities. 

Finally, finally, finally, it's here: The first episode of the newly-relaunched Point of Inquiry is up online, with Josh Zepps interviewing Leonard Mlodinow at the CFI Summit! Video too

Yesterday, SCOTUS heard arguments in Greece v. Galloway on prayers at government and legislative meetings. One tidbit, via the AP:

Justice Samuel Alito pointed to the country's religious diversity to voice his skepticism about the call for only nonsectarian prayer. "I just don't see how it is possible to compose anything that you could call a prayer that is acceptable to all of these groups," Alito said. As Douglas Laycock, the University of Virginia law professor representing the residents, tried to craft an answer, Justice Antonin Scalia and Chief Justice John Roberts jumped in. "You want to pick the groups we're going to exclude?" Scalia said. A few seconds later, Roberts chimed in, "We've already excluded the atheists, right?"   

Ron Lindsay noticed something about Election Day on Tuesday that raised an alarm: He was the youngest one there:

Nothing against old people — like me — but our interests and views should not be overrepresented.  

Marvel Comics introduces Kamala Khan, or "Ms. Marvel," the first Muslim girl superhero. With a huge left hand and pet mutant hedgehog, apparently.

Saturday is Carl Sagan Day! CFI Branches are celebrating, including those in IndianaNew York City, and the following Wednesday in Cleveland

Congressional staffers will get briefed by anti-vaccination advocates today. Great. Orac asks:

I know it’s short notice, but if you live in the DC area and are able, please consider attending this briefing. Regardless of whether you live in the DC area or not, please contact your Representative. 

United Coalition of Reason launches a radio ad campaign and "Secular Directory" website for local freethought groups.  

Duck! No really, because 1) the chances we'll be hit by some serious asteroid business is 10 time greater than we thought, and 2) there's this one-ton satellite that's about to crash and break into pieces of up to 200 lbs each. Oh, and no one knows where it will crash.

He's a pastor! He's a school bus driver! He led the kids in prayer, and now he's not a bus driver anymore

Eric Fromm is student body president of Northwest Christian University, and he's just outed himself as an atheist`, and no one seems all the mad. 

Darwin, Darwin, blah blah blah. NYT has an animated mini-biography of "the other guy," Alfred Russel Wallace.

Curiously silent jailed Pussy Riot member Nadezhda Tolokonnikova is believed to have been transferred to Siberia

Sam Harris to creative types: Animate my words

In case you were curious, the next mayor of New York is not an atheist, but he is "spiritual." 

Jaweed Kaleem reports on a documentary series on the last days of people with terminal illnesses:

Religion is largely absent aside from clips of funerals and the occasional question of the afterlife, such as from one man, who worries that he will go to hell because he thinks he lived a bad life. 

Speaking of the grueling and uncomfortable, New Scientists ponders the question of whether not just adults, but kids should have the right to die. And at what age? 

Study from the University of Pennsylvania suggests that if you want to know how religious someone is, their attitudes about sex are the best predictors of all. 

Washington state voters on required labeling of GMO foods: No thanks

Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard dismisses global warming as a "religion." 

The Skepticamp wiki has a useful reference for upcoming skepto-atheist conferences in 2014. 'Cause boy do we like to confer. A lot. Always conferring, us.

There are more conspiracy theories than even I thought. Here's one from a list cobbled by Mark Jacob and Stephan Benzkofer: Malala Yousafzai is a fake, and it is believed that "DNA in her earwax showed that she was 'probably from Poland.'"  

John Champion at Skeptical InquirerThe Queen Mary is not haunted, and thinking it is creates a problem:

The Queen Mary is actively promoted as a “haunted” attraction (and I’m sure they are making a decent amount of money from that), but a serious, concerted effort to preserve her factual history is somehow pushed to the wayside. At best, it’s an annoyance to those of us who want to understand and appreciate this vessel from her service and the stories of the people on board. At worst (and this is what is happening more often than not) the “haunting” is such a priority that it leads to actual damage of those historic areas, preventing further and future preservation. 

HuffPo has a handy list of things you should never believe on Facebook. (Insert physician-heal-thyself joke here.)

io9 hosts an open forum on what the worst science-denialist movements are. 

Yes, I am an atheist, and yes, we will have Christmas morning and presents with my kids, but please don't get me this stocking. (h/t Rob Boston) 

Listen to Picard and be wiser for it. 

Thanks, professor. 

Quote of the Day

Phil Bump tries to understand the phenomenon of believing that the world is controlled by reptilians. One believer writes, heartwarmingly, in a Tumblr:

before i die i hope to see with my own eyes hybrids walking without masks in the streets, accepted, non sinister, and equal.      

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Linking to a story or webpage does not imply endorsement by Paul or CFI. Not every use of quotation marks is ironic or sarcastic, but it often is. 

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